Stephen Strasburg is sidelined with shoulder inflammation, Jon Lester has yet to make his debut this season, and Patrick Corbin has not pitched up to his contract so far this year.
Dave Martinez needs someone other than Max Scherzer to pitch late into games and give his team a chance to win.
So why is he so hesitant to give Joe Ross more freedom, instead of treating him like a typical No. 4 or 5 starter?
It’s a tendency Martinez has had throughout his tenure in Washington, and at times, it has been warranted. But not in the case of Ross in 2021.
Joe Ross has looked like a borderline ace starting pitcher three times this season. He should not be absolved of the 10-run outing he had against the Cardinals on Monday, but he’s held his opposition to one run and 11 hits in the other 17 innings he’s thrown. Even his walk rate – which had hovered near five per nine innings in 2019 – has been nearly trimmed in half.
So far this season, he’s pitched between 85–91 pitches three times (he went shorter in his season debut). Keeping in mind that he didn’t play last season, he averaged 86 pitches per start in 2019, never throwing 100 pitches in a game. In fact, he hasn’t reached triple digits since undergoing Tommy John surgery midseason of 2017.